Archive for September, 2008

Old Technology: It Works, But People Die

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008


Here’s some brilliant turn of the century engineering for you:  I work in an old warehouse building next to a large steel door hanging from rollers.  If there’s a fire, the rope holding the door in place will burn through and the door will roll down the inclined track, shutting the entrance to the room and, theoretically, preventing the fire from spreading.  

Of course everyone inside (i.e. me) dies, but still, pretty clever.

The Architect and The Urchin

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Dax’s street game, “The Architect and the Urchin” was this weekend.  The game goes something like this:

Every player is given a nametag that they keep on their right wrist.  The goal of the game is to collect as many nametags as possible.  Nametags are collected by taggin players on other teams.

There are three teams, Orange, Purple, and Yellow, each identified by a colored armband.  The Orange team can tag people on the Yellow team, the Yellow team can tag people on the Purple team and the Purple team can tag people on the Orange team.

Each player is given a map with 12 locations on it.  At each location is a stamp.  You need at least 9 stamps to cross the finish line.

Only travel by foot or on CTA trains is allowed.

Shama and I were on the Orange team and we gathered the mysterious Kevin into our cohort as his friend didn’t show up.  We all decided we wanted to try and get the award for getting all 12 stamps as quickly as possible.  We figured most people would start south and work their way north towards the finish line.  Our plan was to take a train north and then do a big loop.

Here’s the route we ended up taking, complete with checkpoints and annotations. Click on “view larger map” to see the details:

View Larger Map

When we finally huffed into the finish line, we were told we were the 7th, 8th, and 9th to finish with all 12 stamps.  Not to bad for over 100 players.  I also won second in the “best photo” contest for this shot of Shama jumping a fence:


Happy Mustache Day

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Friday was Jellyvision’s second kinda-annual Mustache Day.  

I had almost six months of beard to work with, which was a definite advantage.  The goal was curlability.  There are lots of directions you can take such a ‘stache: Rollie Fingers, British, bodybuilder… but I decided  to go Gangs of New York.

On the way to work I found myself standing on a street corner with a hipster wearing lots of vintage clothes and a fedora.  He didn’t say it out loud, but when he looked over at me I’m pretty sure his inner monologue went something like this: “Dammit.”

Here are some other Mustache Day related links:
A Year In Pictures of Comedy
Random Tiffness

Recording Kids Music Is Fun

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Joanie asked if I’d play a song at her daughter Natasha’s baby-warming party.  That sounds weird.  It was actually a 3-month birthday, I think.

Anyway, I decided I shouldn’t just play any old song, I should write one for Natasha.  And now, for her second birthday, I finally got around to recording it.  

Recording music for kids is the best.  You can put whatever you want in there.  Banjo?  Sure!  Whistling?  Definitely!  Sasquatch growl?  Do you even have to ask?  I wanted to put a gong at the end, but Aric wasn’t around and I couldn’t figure out how to use his soft-synth-sampler-deluxe.  Maybe next time.  Until then, here’s “Natasha”:

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Natasha – 2:54

Thanks to Renee for the whistling.  I’m a lousy whistler.
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Monday, September 15th, 2008

Saturday was the 9th annual Piefest. Despite three straight days of rain and area flooding, we still had a decent turnout, some brilliant concoctions, and the obligatory corpulence.

The winning pies:

Best Fruit Pie: “Love And Apple Pie” – Dan
There were some amazing fruit pies this year, but a really well-made apple pie is hard to beat. I loved Henry and Sam’s “Blue Velvet,” a peach and blueberry pie with a perfectly made buttery crust. John and Shanna’s “Red Wine Poached Pear Pie” was fabulous as well. It came with a red wine reduction sauce. Accoutrements equals votes. Joanie and Jon’s “Humble Pie” wasn’t so humble in the end. Despite Joanie’s anxiety that skipping the “bake crust before adding filling” step would result in tragedy, the lemon meringue pie turned out pretty dang tasty.

Best Cream Pie: “Little Davey’s Oatmeal Cream Pie Pie” – Jen and Dave
The weirdest thing about this pie is that Matt, who didn’t make it to Piefest this year, talked to me about making this same pie a few weeks ago. It’s a good thing he didn’t come. Can you imagine two giant oatmeal cream pies? Amazingly, the filling tasted exactly right. I made my grandmother’s chocolate fudge pie with a cream cheese crust, which tied for second place along with a late-arriving (but wonderful) chocolate-peanut-butter cream pie.

Best Savory Pie: “Leekie Pie” – Ruth
The savory category is often the most unpredictable. We only had four savory entries this year and they were all pretty yummy. I love how everyone at Piefest grabs a plate and says, “I think I’ll start with the savory pies.” Of course, there could be only one winner, and Ruth’s leek pie took home the prize.

Best Miscellaneous Pie: “Blueberry Pancake with Maple-Bacon Syrup” – Devon and Beth
When this pie walked through the door it was love at first sight. Blueberry pies are my favorite, and then you add a pancake crust?! Are you kidding me? I didn’t even have the maple-bacon syrup and it was still fantastic. Max and Kate’s mysterious “Buttermilk Pie” came in at the last minute and nearly stole the trophy, but fell a couple votes short. Steve and Virginia’s mind-blowing spicy “Mayan Truffle Pie” took this year’s “Don’t Take Too Big A Slice or You’ll Die” award.

Best Crust: “Chocolate Truffle Banana” – Jody
The Best Crust category can go two ways: beauty or taste. I usually vote for the tastiest crust (I picked “Blue Velvet”) but this year the prettiest crust was the overwhelming favorite, featuring dozens of hand-crafted pie-crust leaves.

Best Presentation: “Little Davey’s Oatmeal Cream Pie Pie” – Jen and Dave
Ever since Nick used his Dremel tool to carve a design into a pumpkin and then served a pumpkin pie inside of it, there’s always someone who goes overboard with presentation. This year it was Jen and Dave, whose giant Oatmeal Cream Pie came in its own box with its own logo. As a final touch, it was also individually wrapped. Nice. Shama’s Ridiculous “Cereal Killer” was a distant second, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Most Original: “Cereal Killer” – Shama
This was another runaway category. Shama’s “Cereal Killer” pie was a sight to behold and an endeavor to eat. I think a lot of folks didn’t really know what to do with it. A Rice Krispie treat crust topped with Golden Grahams followed by a layer of banana cream finished with a fruit and cereal melange and served with milk. Jody actually poured the milk over his slice. Why not?

Most Ambitious Pie: “Blueberry Pancake with Maple-Bacon Syrup” – Devon and Beth
This award usually honors conceptual brilliance but lackluster execution — otherwise known as the “Miserable Failure” award. My cantaloupe pie debacle often comes to mind. This year, however, it went to an ambitious pie concept that was actually a success.

Best In Show: “Love And Apple Pie” – Dan
I think one of the honorable mention nominations said it best: “Apple is a hard category to win — basic but good.” But it was better than good. The apples were sliced so perfectly and, well, it was the best pie of the day.

Honorable Mentions:
Every year there is space on the ballot for people to write in honerable mentions. Here are a couple”

  • “Blueberry Pancake Pie because you get to pour syrup on a pie.”
  • “Best See-Food Pie? Natasha for showing us all the pie in her mouth.”
  • “Real Deal Southern Pecan Pie because it was outstanding but I had to vote for my own pie in this category.”
  • “The Artichoke Spinach Pie has a lot of heart.” [ed- ugh.]

Given The Choice, I’d Take Zambrano’s No-No

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

For the first time ever I had a legitimate chance at winning the fantasy baseball league I’ve been in for 6 years.  After leading the whole season, I went into the playoffs feeling pretty good about my chances. 

Unfortunately, my team — loaded with Cubs — ran into Hurricane Ike this week.  All three of the Cubs-Astros games were postponed.

The Cubs and Astros were scheduled to make-up one of those games tonight in Milwaukee — the final night of the fantasy semi-finals.  I was pinning my hopes on Kerry Wood coming in and getting a save, which would propel me to the final round.

But Kerry Wood didn’t get the save.  Instead, Carlos Zambrano went ahead and pitched himself a no-hitter — the first Cub to do so since 1972.  I ended up losing the fantasy season 300.00 to 302.33.  

Why Doesn’t Anyone Like Hot Pink?

Monday, September 8th, 2008

A few weeks ago I got fed up with the wall that divided my bathroom in two so I took out the top of it and made a giant mess in the process.

A cleaning-up-of-a-giant-mess later, I’ve decided I need to paint the bathroom to de-bore-ify it.  I was thinking of brown — or maybe brown with some blue and green accents, but then Janel of Apartment Therapy suggested navy and it got me thinking.

A hue-and-saturation-fest-in-photoshop later, I have the following images.  What do you all think?

I Think I Met The Bobby Fischer of Rochambeau

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Dax has developed a “street game” called The Architect & The Urchin.  Here are the rules.  This is the greatest thing ever.

Last night Dax had a practice session to help him work out some of the kinks.  A bunch of people met on the steps of the Art Institute and played some tag, sardines, and other games white people like.  I’ve always loved sardines.  We only played one round beacuse the hider did such a good job — lying in tall grass of the garden outside the Art Institute.  It took over an hour for everyone to find him.  I was in the middle of the pack, but Shama was one of the first, using a tried and true tactic that my friend Eddie used to use when we played as kids: act like a weirdo and listen for snickers.  

Hiding in the garden

I think my favorite moment of the evening was when two people in our group played rock-paper-scissors to decide who would hide first.  After a decisive victory,  a stranger ran across Michigan Ave.

Stranger: Who won?
Winner: I did.
Stranger (holding out his hand to play): Let’s go. 

The mysterious stranger won three straight games, pumped his fist (rock?) and then walked off down the street.  When you’ve got it, flaunt it… I guess.